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From 14th to 29th August 1999, we traveled round Iceland by
car and we had a great time there.
The pictures, presented here, are from this period.
We decided to make a preparationless travel: only the flight and the first night in the capital were booked in advance; for the next nights we found accommodations at the various youth hostels you can find all around Iceland.
Starting at Reykjavík, we drove around Route n°1, anti-clockwise for the first part of the trip and clock-wise for the other.
Southern Iceland - Keflavik to Vik
Our first step of the tour was the Reykjanes peninsula.
Situated about 40km from Reykjavik near the fishing town of Grindavik lies 'The
Blue Lagoon'. A natural lagoon which is fed by natural underground geothermal
water. It was created by run-off from the Svartsengi
power plant, which pumps up the geothermally heated water from a full mile
below the surface.
After a regenerating bath in the 40°C degrees heat water, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the southern coast of the peninsula and took many photos at the Krysuvik hot springs with their enormous jets of steam gushing their way out of the earth and rising into the sky.
Heading south along Route N.1, on our left we drove along the mountain Hekla, an active volcano for centuries; on the way we found lots of beautiful natural wonders such as Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, a scenic, 40-metre high waterfall that flows over a massive overhang in the cliff face; this makes it possible to walk completely around the falls.
The magnificent Dyrhólaey, the southernmost promontory in Iceland, is renowned for its precipitous cliffs teeming with bird life and the huge sea eroded arch - through which large boats can sail.
There is a lot of bird life in Mýrdalur, with gulls, Arctic terns but we could see not even a puffin - God bless them !!!!!!
The Internal Highlands - Landmannalaugar
We took a rest in a remote youth hostel near Vik and we planned to visit the
interior even if we had only a non 4-wheels car. We headed toward the southern
highlands of Landmannalaugar,
one of the pearls of Icelandic nature, along a narrow graveled road with many
Landmannalaugar is an oasis in the middle of nowhere, where hot springs allow you to take a hot bath in the river. Its unspoiled rhyolite peaks, glacial rivers and geothermal hot streams provided a steady supply of breathtaking panoramas. Unusually coloured volcanic rocks include blues, greens, yellows, tans, and blacks. Fierce winds threatened to push us from the narrow paths that clung stubbornly to the jagged ridgelines.
Geysir and Gullfoss
One of the natural attractions of Iceland is now Strokkur,
another geyser 100 meters south of the old Great Geysir, now dormant, which
erupts at regular intervals every 5 minutes or so and its white column of
boiling water can reach as high as 20-30 meters. The whole area is a geothermal
park sitting on top of a vast boiling cauldron.
Not far from there, in the sunset hour, we took a view of Gullfoss (The golden waterfall) Iceland's most famous waterfall, and one of the natural wonders of the world.. The enormous white glacial cascade drops into a narrow canyon. Its spectacular two-tiered cataract hangs in the air like fine drizzle, which forms a rainbow in the sunlight. It is Iceland's all-time spectacle.
We went up to the north coast by the road of Kjölur which passes in the middle of the two glaciers Langjökull and Hofsjökull.
The landscape changed really abruptly, no more green bush with "cotton" flowers, only earth and stones, and no paved track.
The road temporarily leaves the main Hvítá river valley climbing to the pass between Bláfell mountain and Langjökull. That's, in our memory, one of the most scenic part of the journey: the contrast between desert and ice, under a deep blue sky, is really an unforgettable feeling.
The road descends peacefully back in the main valley towards the Hvítarvátn lake, renowned for the icebergs released in it by a Langjökull's glacier tongue.
In the middle of the Kjölur road we arrived at the hot spring area of Hveravellir with its coloured ground at high temperature where you can take a relaxing bath. Here, a series of over 20 hot pools, some sprouting steam geysers, others boiling madly, blues and greens with small sintered pools, are beautifully set in the desert.
On the way to the North coast we took a rest at a beautiful youth hostel in the Vatnsnes peninsula with a beautiful landscape and scenario over a seal-populated bay.
The North: Akureyri, Myvatn and Askja
On our way along Route n°1 we arrived in the sunny Akureyri,
the capital of the north.
We decided to stay here for two days so we were able to see much of the surroundings. Akureyri is a pretty town, so much clean and after many days spent in the desert we enjoyed the return to civilized society.
Next day we decided to attack the interior of Iceland and head towards Askja. We rented a 4WD vehicle and travelling quickly through Myvatn area, with the “must” stop at the Goðafoss falls, we took some photos at the geothermic fields of Hverarönd with its labyrinths of sulfure springs, mud marmites and smoke holes.
Myvatn area is famous for its shallow lake which is the breeding grounds for thousands of migratory birds feeding on midge fly and their larva. These midge hatch from May to August and although some bite most don't, and just swarm around you everywhere you move outside. They are so thick they penetrate your ears, eyes and nose rapidly driving you to frustration. Unfortunately we were there during the peak season so we couldn’t stop here so much.
At last we rode the 70 km to Askja. The first 30 km was through volcanic ash interspersed with harder tufa. We crossed many deep and wide rivers during this part of the track, then we headed out on the F88 past Herdubreid. The desert scenery was broken only by the oasis at the base of the mountain. The final 40 km was generally harder surface and in the end we were weaving through a lava field to arrive at the Askja caldera.
The Askja lake is bounded in the south and east by precipitous cliffs and to the north and west by cliffs cutting the lavas that cover the bottom of the Askja caldera. The present level of the lake is 50 m below the bottom of the caldera. Soundings of the Askja lake reveal a roughly circular crater-like depression. Vigorous geothermal activity is manifest on the eastern and southern boarders of the lake. A large crater, Víti, just northeast of the subsistence, contains fumaroles and a small pond with warm constant water at 25 degrees .
We returned tired at Akureyri at night after exciting 500 km of tracks by Jeep in a day.
Next day we were on the road again and moved to the fishing town of Husavik famed for whale watching, but the windy weather conditions not allowed us to do one of the guided tours by boat. After heading north we rode past several farms and then turned inland and climbed up and around the back of a high headland. Then down and into the small town of Kopasker where we took a rest in the small youth hostel which had a beautiful view over the Artic sea. Along a bad road, we arrived at Dettifoss, the largest volume waterfall in Europe. It turned out to be a lot of water falling into a canyon, and as often happens, impossible to photograph in a single shot. The spray and the noise was incredible, giving the effect of a full rain for a 1/2 km downstream.
The east fjords:
We drove towards eastern fjords driving through outwash plains,
called sandur in Iceland, which are broad nearly flat areas of braided stream
sediment. We passed through the pretty town of Egilsstaðir and we took a rest
at the Seyðisfjörður youth hostel. Seyðisfjörður fjord is long and narrow
and flanked by high mountains. At its head lies the town
which is the closest Icelandic port to the Faeroer Islands and Europe. The fjord
is set also in a beautiful valley, Vestdalur, with numerous waterfalls,
colourful flora and rich birdlife.
The next day we continued our way towards the south coast passing through beautiful landscapes along the coast.
The south coast:
At Höfn we took a rest in a very comfortable guesthouse and booked an
organized trip to the Vatnajökull glacier. The bus driver joined us at
the base of Vatnajökull glacier in the next morning just in time to
bring us to the starting point of our ascension of the glacier.
We arrived to a pretty hut with an amazing view on the valley below and enjoyed so much the cruise with the motoski over the glacier. Vatnajökull is not only impressing by its size but also because you can find even on the top sulfure hot springs and smoke holes: this is due to the volcanic activity underneath the ice.
On the south coast an earthquake has created in the beginning of this century the glacial lagoon Jökulsarlon. This is connected to the sea by a short stretch of river. Icebergs break off the end of Breiðamerkurjökull and float on Jökulsárlón until small enough to be washed out to sea. In the lagoon we cruised with funny amphiby boats between ice blocks "falling" from the glacier. On our way along the south coast we pass through the Skaftafell National Park and made some hiking for reach Svartifoss (name means "Black waterfall"), the famous waterfall dropping from the edge of a broad columnar basalt cliff which looks like the round wall of an amphitheatre. The unusual configuration of the hexagonal basalt columns, most of them hanging from the lip of the cliff, have been the inspiration source for the architectural design of the National Theatre in Reykjavík. The route from the campsite to Svartifoss is one of the most trodden in the park and it takes about an hour to walk to the fall and return to the campsite, a journey well worth taking.
The south west: Þingvellir, Reykjavík and the end of the tour
We drove towards north and in the evening
we arrived in the Laugarvatn area. Known as a popular tourist resort in Iceland,
Laugarvatn is a shallow lake, about 2 square km in size, full under its floor of
hot springs which heat the lake so that it is warm and suitable for bathing all
Þingvellir (Parliament Plains) is located in the South West of Iceland not too far from Laugarvatn. Þingvellir was, for almost 900 years, the site of the Althing (Parliament) of Iceland: for that it’s the most historic site of Iceland The place is also on the join between the american and Eurasian tectonic plates. As these plates are moving apart, huge cracks have appeared in the ground. Some of this cracks are wide enough for a multi-lane road.
We didn’t stop here so much because we fell in one of the two bad weather days we encountered in our trip.
We completed our circle tour arriving to Reykjavik after a rest at a youth hostel near Borgarnes. We stayed in the capital for two days so we could have an idea of the northernmost city of Europe. Reykjavík may seem more like a small town than a national capital to many visitors, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality. There are numerous art galleries, museums, libraries, and theatres. There are also many excellent hotels, restaurants and clubs where you can meet genuinely and friendly people. On our last night in town we explored Reykjavík's nightlife, especially the various bars and pubs in the downtown area. We visited some of the city on foot, made shopping for souvenirs, and generally making the most of what was left of our time in Iceland.
We left this amazing country with the purpose of return there someday and visit the parts which we lost: all the western fjords, the Westman Islands, much of the interior and... new local beauties : ).
|3700 Km by car||396 photos|
|500 Km by jeep (in only one day)||7 days of hiking|
|17 days total||no flat tires!!!|
TAKK FYRIR (thanks so much) for your attention!……..J